Acts - The Upside Down Community

God is bigger than you can imagine. You are a created being trying to comprehend the Creator. We are limited in our ability to understand God but I want to try an exercise anyway. Try to imagine God. What images come to mind? What qualities? 

In Jesus Christ, we see God in the flesh. Throughout Luke’s Gospel we were given a glimpse into who God is through Jesus. What we find is a King and a Kingdom that looks upside down to this world. This upside down-ness is brought to fullness in the reclaiming of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is not reclaimed through greater might or military strength. The Kingdom is reclaimed and restored through self-sacrifice: Jesus’ death on the cross. But that is not the end of the story. The Resurrection of Jesus is the final answer to the sin question. 

Luke transitions his epic tale with Jesus promising the Holy Spirit and then “ascending into heaven.” There is some Moses imagery in this short passage pointing to Jesus as the leader who ascends up to God to then bring down the covenant and Law to guide the people. Luke has placed tons of emphasis on the Holy Spirit’s work in Jesus’ life and ministry. This same Spirit is given to us to guide us and mark us as God’s people. Here is the imagery in this opening scene that is important not to miss. God became like one of us to redeem us and make us whole. Jesus, in the physical resurrected body, steps back into God’s realm and sends us the power of God which brings about transformation into the resurrection. The rest of Acts shows the movement of the Holy Spirit through God’s people, the Church. The Church is the people who have received the Holy Spirit, becoming the New Temple where God dwells, and engaging in transformation through the Holy Spirit into the resurrection through Jesus Christ which will be fully realized when Christ returns.

In chapter 2, the imagery of Moses continues with Pentecost. This is the celebration of Moses going up on Mt. Saini and receiving the Law and where the people made a covenant with God to be his chosen people. The law was given to show what living in the covenant is supposed to look like for a people who are to be a light to the world. This imagery in Acts 1-2 shows Jesus going up to God to establish a new covenant people. The Holy Spirit then comes down as a marker on these people and a New Kingdom ethic is established for the people who are called to be a light to the world. 

The Holy Spirit comes to bring transformation to the people of God, restoring them to what God intended with his creation. This doesn’t happen automatically. We have to allow the Spirit to work in us and through us. Last week, Kent talked about tools for spiritual formation and how we often only give God one tool to work with in transforming us. What was the image of God that you held in your mind when we first began this blog? This is the God that is bigger than you can imagine or fathom. This is the same God that wants to dwell in you through the Holy Spirit. How is it that we want to deny the Spirit’s work in our lives? 

We are a New Covenant people. What does this Kingdom ethic look like in the New Covenant? It looks upside down to the world. It looks like the Holy Spirit being poured out on all people, women and men, young and old, and throughout Acts we will see that it is poured out on Gentiles too! The image of this Kingdom ethic is found in the fellowship of believers in Acts 2:42-47. What do you need to do in your life right now to help us become more like that community?